In a stunning announcement yesterday SpaceX explained that two people had paid significant deposits for a Dragon 2 mission around the moon currently scheduled to launch in 2018.
Using a free return trajectory around the moon the mission will launch from KSC LC-39A atop a Falcon Heavy and then fly around the moon taking the crew further from Earth than any humans have ever been before. The two crew members will spend seven days in space before returning to Earth either landing back in the ocean or potentially using a propulsive landing back on land.
Elon Musk made the announcement during a telecon that was announced on Sunday, he explained that SpaceX plans to launch the first uncrewed Dragon 2 later this year on a test mission to the International Space Station. This new mission will not launch until SpaceX has completed the certification of Dragon 2 for NASA.
If SpaceX is able to achieve this schedule then they will do something that hasn’t been done since the last Apollo mission to the moon. This will also leapfrog them over NASA which is currently looking into adding a crew to the EM-1 mission due to launch sometime in 2018, however it is likely to be delayed especially if they need to make changes to accommodate crew, otherwise the first crewed mission isn’t scheduled until No Earlier Than (NET) 2021.